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Month of July


Commemoration of the Holy Martyr Sunniva & Those with Her
Composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson

At Vespers

At "Lord, I have cried ...", these stichera of the martyr, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.. "O all-glorious wonder ..." -

O all-glorious wonder! The royal maiden Sunniva, pledging her troth to Christ our God, preserved her virginity for Him alone; wherefore, when the infidel sought to take her by force, she straightway forsook her earthly authority and native land, putting to sea without sail or oar, trusting in her heavenly Bridegroom alone, to save His faithful servants by His omnipotent power.

O all-glorious wonder! Christ the Helmsman steered the martyrs' boats, veiling them with the mists of the sea against all predatory eyes; and He guided them ever northward, to the islands of the Northmen's coast, where at the calm haven of Selje Isle, he brought them to a land where they might work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

O all-glorious wonder! When the heathen came upon the saints, they summoned their savage warriors to put them cruelly to the sword; but the glorious Sunniva, retiring to her cave to pray, besought Christ her Master with tears, that whatever death they were to die, He would preserve their holy bodies untouched by the infidel.

Glory ... : Idiomelon, in the same tone -

Moved by the entreaties of the chaste and holy Sunniva, and the pleas of His servants, the Most High hearkened to their prayers and delivered them from the idolaters; for as they prayed to Him in great distress, He caused the roof of their cave to collapse, denying entry to the wicked, who withdrew from the island in perplexity and dismay; but He took the souls of the martyrs with Him to heaven, where they abide eternally in the celestial mansions, where the song is unceasing of those who partake of the banquet of everlasting life.

Now & ever … Theotokion, or this stavrotheotokion: Spec. Mel.: "O all-glorious wonder ..." -

Beholding Thee crucified upon the Cross, O Jesus, accepting suffering willingly, Thy Virgin Mother cried out: "Woe is me, O Master, my sweet Child! How is it that Thou dost unjustly endure wounds, O Physician Who hast healed the weakness of men and delivered all from corruption by Thy loving-kindness?"

Aposticha stichera from the Octoechos; and Glory ... : Idiomelon, in Tone II -

When the land of Norway cast off idolatry as is were a ragged and verminous cloak, then, washed in the font of holy baptism, it eagerly put on the brilliant white of Christianity and the splendid crown of piety, wherein Sunniva and the saints of Selje shone like brilliant gems, casting their radiance upon the souls of the pious and delighting the Church of Christ with their supernal lustre.

Now & ever ... : Theotokion, or this stavrotheotokion, in the same tone: Spec. Mel.: "When from the Tree ..." -

When the Virgin beheld Life dying on the Tree, His side painfully pierced by a spear, she exclaimed, weeping: "O my Son and God, how hath the ungrateful assembly rewarded Thee? Woe is me! My womb, which did not suffer the pangs of childbirth, is wracked with pain, beholding Thee suffering agony, O Master!"

Troparion, in Tone I -

Most blessed were the chaste royal virgin Sunniva and those who died with her, for the King of kings, showing them His grace and favour, in His compassion and loving-kindness delivered them from the hand of the infidel, and made them to dwell with the saints and angels in paradise. Glory to Him Who hath saved them! Glory to Him Who hath crowned them! Glory to Him Who worketh all-glorious wonders through His faithful martyrs!

At Matins

Both canons from the Octoechos; and that of the holy martyr, with 4 troparia, the acrostic whereof is "Restore Norway to Orthodoxy, O Sunniva", in Tone II -

Ode I

Irmos: Traversing the impassable, uncommon path of the sea dry-shod, Israel the chosen cried aloud: Let us chant unto the Lord, for He hath been glorified!

Remove from me the stain of my sins and transgressions, O my Redeemer, that, having traversed the abyss of evils, I may hymn Thy chosen ones.

Every Christian ear hearkeneth to the tale of thy valour of soul and thy martyric death, O Sunniva; and every Orthodox mouth chanteth thy praises.

Sailing the perilous waters, thou didst traverse the sea, fleeing thy homeland, O Sunniva, to preserve thy virginity and the glorious purity of thy soul.

Theotokion: To thee, O Virgin favoured by God, do we flee for shelter amid the raging tempests of this earthly life, for thou art verily a calm haven for us all.


Irmos: Establish me, O Lord my God, that mine enemy may not boast concerning me; for Thou, O Lord, art my confirmation, my refuge and power.

Over all temptations and spiritual passions didst thou triumph gloriously, for the Lord was thy confirmation, refuge and power, O Sunniva.

Redeemed by Christ from bondage to Satan and death, O Sunniva, thou didst trample the enemy underfoot, lest he boast against thee.

Established firmly on the rock of salvation, O holy martyr, thou and thy companions bravely withstood all the assaults of the adversary.

Theotokion: No answer have we to give thy Son, the impartial Judge, O Virgin Mother; wherefore, in thy great compassion, beseech Him for clemency.

Sessional hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: "Of the Wisdom ..." -

When thy realm was assailed with violence, O holy Sunniva, thou didst set forth with thy loyal subjects, taking neither oar nor sail, but trusting in the loving-kindness of Christ. And when thy little fleet came safely to the Norway coast, thou didst find refuge in a humble cave on Selje Isle, as in infancy He took shelter in the cave of Bethlehem. Wherefore, as when He fled from Herod into Egypt, He received the souls of the murdered babes, so did He take the souls of thee and thy companions across to the Promised Land of heaven.

Glory ... , Now & ever ... : Theotokion, in the same melody -

Having fallen into the most subtle temptations of enemies, visible and invisible, stuck fast in the tempest of my countless offences, I flee to the haven of thy goodness, O pure one, as to my fervent assistance and protection. Wherefore, O all-pure one, do thou earnestly entreat Him Who became incarnate of thee without seed, in behalf of all thy servants who unceasingly pray to thee, O all-pure Theotokos, ever beseeching Him to grant remission of our offences unto us who hymn thy glory as is meet.

Stavrotheotokion -

The ewe-lamb, beholding the Lamb, Shepherd and Deliverer upon the Cross, exclaimed, weeping, and bitterly lamenting, cried out: "The world rejoiceth, receiving deliverance through Thee, but my womb doth burn, beholding Thy crucifixion, which Thou endurest in the loving-kindness of Thy mercy. O long-suffering Lord, Thou abyss and inexhaustible well-spring of mercy, take pity and grant remission of transgressions unto those who hymn Thy divine sufferings with faith!"

Ode IV

Irmos: Without the aid of men's hands Thou wast cut as a stone from the mountain of the Virgin Mother, O Christ; wherefore, the prophet, foreseeing this, cried aloud: Thou hast come for the salvation of Thy people! Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Oars and sails didst thou not take aboard thy boats, O blessed martyr, rather it was the Spirit of God Who propelled thy soul to the cold shores of Norway; wherefore, thou didst chant to Him unceasingly: Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Resisting evil with all thy power, O wondrous Sunniva, thou didst elude the snares of the evil one like as a sparrow escapeth the fowlers' nets, and didst find salvation of soul with thy faithful companions, preserved by God in thy cave.

When the cruel Norseman, whose suit thou didst reject, laid waste to thy kingdom, O holy one, with thy followers thou didst escape his predations in boats, for thou hadst ardently betrothed thyself unto Christ, thy heavenly Bridegroom.

Theotokion: Amethyst and other precious stones form the foundations of the walls of heaven, where thou dost reign in glory with thy Son, the King of kings, O Queen. Beseech Him, that by the power of His mercy He open unto us the gates of pearl.

Ode V

Irmos: The Sun - the live Coal which was revealed beforehand to Isaiah - shone forth from the Virgin's womb, granting the enlightenment of divine knowledge to those gone astray in darkness.

Youth and wealth, nor yet power, didst thou cherish more than the God of all, O Sunniva most rich, and like the young Samuel thou didst prefer the enlightenment of wisdom to ought that is earthly.

The memory of Sunniva's holiness is cause for the whole world to rejoice: wherefore, leap up, O ye seas, clap your hands in gladness, ye thunderous waves, and rejoice exceedingly, ye islands of Norway.

On the tumultuous waters did ye journey, O martyrs, to the blessed Isle of Selje, where in love for God and neighbour ye lived in piety and abstinence, praising God for His mercy and compassions.

Theotokion: Over the temptations of the flesh and the carnal passions give us mastery, O all-holy Mistress, lest, benighted thereby, we wander blind in the darkness of ignorance and stray far from our good Shepherd.

Ode VI

Irmos: Prefiguring Thy burial, Cross and suffering, Jonah spent three days in the belly of the sea monster, O Saviour, and cried out from within it: Let my life issue forth, and my prayer come to Thy divine temple, O Lord of mercy!

Residing in caves, like the desert-dwellers of old, Sunniva and her companions lived lives of fasting and temperance, sustaining themselves with the fruits of the sea and the green herbs which the Lord in His mercy provided.

The heathens who dwelt on the coasts of Moldefjord, taking the saints for a band of brigands, summoned Haakon Jarl and his warriors; but the God of mercies and loving-kindness kept the martyrs safe from their hands.

Hosts of angels shielded the pious Sunniva and her band when the pagans, descending in ships upon the Isle of Selje, came to put them to death; wherefore, the roof of the cave collapsed, preserving the martyrs like the youths of Ephesus.

Theotokion: Olive-trees round about thy table do we desire to be, and fruit-laden vines upon the wall of thy house, O Lady blessed of God; wherefore, grant us the fear of the Lord Most High, that we may unerringly walk in His ways.

Kontakion, in Tone V-

Filling the heavens with its brilliance, a pillar of light shone forth over the martyr's cave, drawing men to Selje Isle, like as a beacon guideth mariners to safe harbour; and there the body of Sunniva was found, untouched by corruption and the ravages of time, for she hath joined the choir of virgins in heaven, where she hymneth the Holy Trinity forever.

Ikos: O cave of stone, open thy mouth and tell us: How oft wast thou washed with Sunniva's tears as by a stream? How is it that her sighings did not rend thy walls apart? Wherefore did the divine light which shone forth from her not set thee afire? How greatly did the angels marvel at the martyr's ascetic feats? For by all these things hath the Island of Selje been hallowed and the whole land of Norway been sanctified. And as we ponder thereon, our hearts fill with compunction, mindful that the holy one now abideth in heaven, where she hymneth the Holy Trinity forever.


Irmos: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers, Who of old extinguished the thunderous furnace and bedewed the children with by an outpouring of the Spirit.

Death impending, the holy Sunniva prayed that, however the friends of God might die, their bodies would escape defilement; and the Lord hearkened unto her.

Our hearts have grown cold, and there is no love in us for God or neighbour; but warm us with the fire of thy zeal for the Holy Trinity, O holy passion-bearer.

Xenophobia and hatred infect us like a pestilence; but bedew us with thine innocence, O Sunniva, ewe-lamb of Christ, Who is the blessed God of our Fathers.

Theotokion: Ye faithful Orthodox Christians, sing in exultation, hymning the splendours of the most immaculate Theotokos, who bore the all-blessed God of our Fathers.


Irmos: Him Who by His word brought all things out of oblivion into existence, do ye hymn and exalt supremely for all ages!

Olaf the King sailed to Selje Isle and, clearing the fallen rocks from the cave, found within the incorrupt body of the holy Sunniva.

Selje's cave was made a Christian Church, and the faithful gathered the bones of the martyrs to enshrine in reliquaries.

Unknowable are the ways of God, Who keepeth the bones of all His saints; wherefore let us exalt Him supremely for all ages.

Theotokion: Now and at every time and season let u s magnify the all-pure one, who bore God, Whom we hymn and exalt for all ages.

Ode IX

Irmos: O Theotokos, with hymns do we magnify thee, the noetic and animate ladder whereon our God established Himself, and whereby we have gained ascent to heaven.

Now let the islands of Norway join chorus with its frigid seas, and let the coasts thereof rejoice exceedingly, for the glory of the martyrs shineth forth from their midst.

Ireland rejoiceth in the birth of the holy martyrs of Selje, and Norway is fittingly adorned by their dust, as with gold and precious stones, for they pray unceasingly for us.

Virgins and martyrs, the holy and the venerable, greeted thee and thy companions, O glorious Sunniva, when the angels of God escorted thy pure souls to heaven.

Theotokion: All the generations of men and the ranks of the noetic beings magnify thee, O Virgin Mary, as thou didst foretell, for by thee hath mankind entered again into paradise.

Exapostilarion: Spec. Mel.: "The heaven with stars ..." -

O ye martyrs guided by God to the Island of Selje, by your supplications guide Norway away from the shoals of error to the safe haven of the one true Faith.

Theotokion -

O Theotokos, Queen of heaven, boast of the martyrs, joy of the angels and consoler of the grieving: Pull us from the abyss of our manifold transgressions.

Aposticha stichera from the Octoechos; and Glory ... , of the martyr: Idiomelon, in Tone IV -

When the light of Christ, the Sun of righteousness, broke forth upon the lands of the Norse, and the spring of His Holy Church spread its warmth thereon, thawing the wintry ice of idolatry, then, like seeds long hidden in the earth, the bones of the martyrs arose from the earth, blossoming like comely flowers, resplendent in the light of grace divine. Wherefore, even the heathen, beholding their radiance and drinking in their sweet fragrance, paid them fitting homage, and brought them to Olaf the King and Sigurd the Bishop, at whose hands they themselves were reborn in the laver of regeneration. O Norway, bending thy knee in obeisance, embrace the faith and piety of these saints, that, bearing a rich harvest of souls unto the Master of all, thou mayest find eternal favour in His eyes.

Now & ever …: Theotokion, or this stavrotheotokion, in the same tone: Spec. Mel.: "As one valiant among the martyrs ..." -

When the ewe-lamb, Thy Mother, beheld Thee nailed to the Cross, O Lord, she marvelled and cried out: "What is this new sight, O my Son most desired? How hath the unbelieving and iniquitous assembly rewarded Thee Who benefited them by Thy many miracles? Glory to Thine ineffable condescension, O Master!"

At Liturgy

Prokimenon, in Tone IV -

In the saints that are in His earth hath the Lord been wondrous; He hath wrought all His desires in them.
Stichos: I beheld the Lord ever before me, for He is at my right hand, that I might not be shaken.

Epistle to the Romans, § 99
[Rom. 8: 28-39]

Brethren: We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, those He also called: and whom He called, those He also justified: and whom he justified, those he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God Who justifieth. Who is he who condemneth? It is Christ Who died, yea rather, Who is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia, in Tone IV -

Stichos: The righteous cried, and the Lord heard them, and He delivered them out of all their tribulations.

Stichos: Many are the tribulations of the righteous, but the Lord shall deliver them out of them all.

Gospel according to Matthew, § 37
[Mt. 10: 23-31]

The Lord said to His disciples: "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Communion Verse -

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; praise is meet for the upright.

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